For many people the experience of the World War I shattered their faith in religion, science, progress and philosophy, this because in the Victorian Age there was a positivist sight of world and a science based on the principle of stability.
In this period were published studies that take the distance from the old ideas: for example the Theory of Relativity of Albert Einstein. A fundamental influence on artists were the new theories on the unconscious generally know as psychoanalysis of Freud, who considered the human mind as a dynamic force originating in instinct and repressed desire.
Modernism is an European movement which is collocated in the first part of 20 century. It involved all forms of art. All the aspects of Modernism have in common the desire to make a clean break with the tradition which came before through experimentation, and the shift from objective perception of reality into a subjective one.
During the Modernist movement artists relied more and more on color and form rather than the representation of the natural world: they exalted subjective experience and primitivism.
The modernist novel broke with most of the conventions which had typified Victorian fiction.
Some of the most important characteristics are:
- The breakdown of traditional literary genres
- The fragmentation of the traditional ideas of places and time: instead of the clearly distinct ideas of past present and future writers began to conceive of time as a continuous flux in which only individual consciousness identifies significant moments, which was called from Virginia Woolf “moments of being”.
- The collapse of the traditional plot with a story that has a beginning and an end.
- The use of complex language which often defies traditional syntax, grammar and punctuation.
- A new idea by which literature had to emphasize the psychological truth rather than realistic details.
- The use of classical myth to compensate the lack in belief in anything.
- The adoption of free verse instead of traditional metres.